Working as an EBD teacher in my first year is hard! I struggle daily with deciding what battles to fight and which not to fight. I am constantly asking myself if I am protecting the student from their disability or if I am enabling them. I recently chose not to address a student's actions, and because I didn't, the child took that inch and ran a mile with it, resulting in her fighting with another student. I was told that every negative or inappropriate student behavior in EBD has to be addressed and dealt with. I disagree.
In retrospect I should have addressed the first issue so that it didn't end with my student fighting another. I also realize that I am new at this and I will make mistakes along the way. This bad decision has made me excessively aware of each and every thing my students do as I work through all the potential outcomes of an action before I provide a response. I honestly detest it.
My main objection is the preoccupation with behavior. It seems as though the focus has shifted from my students as a whole and with their academics to an over emphasis on behaviors and body language.
My students have noticed the change and have become very cranky and expressed they feel like they are always in trouble. I feel as though the EBD student is a unique individual that requires a significant amount of understanding, compassion, and flexibility.
To create a productive and beneficial environment, you have to have rules with consequences. For the actions that are not on the classroom rules board, and for those that are a direct result of their disability or medication, it is purely a judgment call. I am left second-guessing my judgment now, primarily because I am inexperienced and fear that I have become desensitized. I feel like my decision-making has become clouded.
I want to make sure that I am giving my students room to make mistakes and learn from them without having to involve disciplinary actions, yet I have to make sure that they do not get the idea that they can work outside of the rules. I am sure that EBD students are not the only ones that require this level of supervision, so how do you walk the fine line between advocate and enabler?